Thursday, May 1, 2014

Philippine Asst Health Secretary Does Not Know HIV

An hour ago, on "Aquino and Abunta Tonight"...

Boy Abunda: Is there a cure for HIV?
DOH Asst Secretary Tayag: There is no cure. But you can delay its progression to AIDS!

WTF! If the DOH secretary himself doesn't know what HIV medicines do, what more can we can expect from common people? Sec. Tayag, this is misinformation, and is not encouraging people to have the test. No wonder, we are one of the very few countries with rising HIV cases. 

Sec. Tayag, FYI, if you don't know (which I assume you don't), it is very important to diagnose HIV early on. Why? To regularly monitor your CD4 count and prevent it from going below 500 or 350 (in our country). Once the CD4 count of a person goes down to this level, he can start taking ARV. Once he is on ARV, the ARV can control HIV and even reduce it to undetectable level. The ARV will also increase the CD4 count of the person from the time he started taking ARV.  

HIV is considered an AIDS case when your CD4 goes down to <200, or you get HIV opportunistic infections (which normally infect PLHIV with CD4 below 200). Now, if you started your ARV at 500 or 350, it is very likely that your CD4 wouldn't even go below 200, and as such, you won't experience any HIV opportunistic infection at all. Thus, this stops (take note, stop not just delay) the HIV from progressing to AIDS!

This is my greatest regret. I refused to have an HIV test early on because I was so scared. I thought that since HIV doesn't have a cure, it will always lead to AIDS, and PLHIV eventually die of AIDS. I didn't know how ARV works. I didn't know these facts. Well, obviously, the health secretary doesn't know as well. What a shame! Inuubos kasi oras sa pagsasayaw eh!

Anyway, I hope this enlightens some people, and would encourage proactive testing for those at risk of HIV. Yes, there is no cure for HIV. But there is ARV that can control the virus, increase one's immune system (as measured by the CD4), and stop (not just merely delay) the progression of HIV to AIDS! Early diagnosis can definitely save lives! 

Get tested. It's free and anonymous in several testing centers nationwide. And ARV is free in several HIV Treatment Hubs